Saturday, April 27, 2013

A friend recently sent me photos of her ducklings enjoying their first outdoor swim. The photos reminded me of geese we used to have. They totally enjoyed enjoyed their kiddie pool baths. I'd clean the tub and fill it with sparkling clear water. They'd climb in, probably completely dismayed by the unusual invisible wetness, and immediately set out to remedy the situation, leaning over the edge, filling their bills with mud, and dabbling away. I can only assume there was a goosey sigh of relief as clear water gave way to brown poopy muck. Obviously my idea of what constitutes a pleasant swim was radically opposed to theirs.

And ducklings in their little pan agree!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Letter to Dish Network

Dear Sirs:

For quite some time our house has received Dish Network satellite television. We'd used other services but settled on Dish as providing the services we wanted. One of those services was the choice to pay our bill a full year at a time. It was an advantage to both of us. You locked us into staying with Dish for the entire year and we didn't have the monthly hassle of staring at the high cost of television. Win-win.

Now you inform us that we can no longer pay for our service a year at a time. We must subscribe on a month-to-month basis and be billed accordingly. Well, Bully for you!

Despite my husband's assurances that you couldn't be so mean, I know that your tiny corporate minds are already poised to increment up the costs of service. Isn't it irksome enough that we have receive a zillion channels we have no interest in just to get the few we actually watch?

However, be that as it may I thought I'd thank you anyway. You see, subscribing month-to-month also means that I see (and wince) each month as the bill arrives. It means instead of ignoring the cost for an entire year I review and re-evaluate each month: Do I really need this much television or can I drop to a cheaper tier? It means I am tempted twelve times more often to switch to your competition.

Thank you Dish Network for the frequently recurring opportunity to be an ex-Dish Network customer.

Oh, and by the way… pay the postage and send those bills monthly by mail, okay?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feline Mystery

An Exceedingly Small Mystery of Life:

Why does my cat sit by the hinge side of the door waiting to come inside when she knows perfectly well that the open part will appear at the opposite end?

She does this all the time. Even those times she IS sitting at the other end from the hinge she will walk to the hinge end before returning to enter the door.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ravenous Amazon?

Amazon just acquired Goodreads. It is nothing new. A company grows and has cash to spare and buys another company. Then there is more cash so it gobbles more companies and turns into a mega-corporation that slithers over the landscape absorbing everything in its path. Banks do it. Oil companies and food companies and soda companies do it. Amazon has been doing it. Google… well let's just assume that Google will own just about everything it has touched.

Getting big and being successful isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can lower prices and extend availability of products. More often though it has seemed to destroy variety, limit choices, and result in price fixing and control. Big companies get filled with small minds and small minds aren't creative. They become fixated on self-preservation. Those are the minds that buy up anything even remotely resembling competition - only to pluck it apart and destroy it. Or use it for the purposes of the parent animal.

Will that happen to Goodreads? Should a company that sells books oversee a site that critiques them? If you think YES then you may also think that Amazon does not filter the responses posted to its customer response lists. Notice how often the positive 5+ reviews are first and foremost on the page. Subtle, but…

I'm made uneasy by this acquisition. I recall not so long ago when Google gobbled a company hosting an online game I played. They wanted some other fragment of the company and despite the avid players of this game and the wonderfully benign, creative nature of it (nobody exploded or maimed!) Google killed it. The mega-bucks corp could have left the game alone but, unlike the bash 'em and slash 'em games, it didn't generate enough moolah.

I'm an Amazon customer and will probably continue to be. But just as my enthusiasm for Google faded, replaced by an uneasiness and growing sense of distrust, I expect the same sense to take root about Amazon.